Today I read about a Mr. Clemmons. He walked into a coffee shop in Tacoma, Washington as four police officers were completing paperwork before their shift started. He evidently, pulled out a gun and shot all four in cold blood. One officer was able to wound him but was also killed. I mourn the four police officers because they are among our bravest citizens.
The controversy began because Mike Hukkabee (sp?) apparently gave clemency to the perpetrator some years back. Between then and now, the assailant continued to rack up criminal charges of abuse toward police officers, domestic partners and children. I do not bemoan the fact that he was let out of prison. Hukkabee allegedly cited Clemmons' childhood as a reason why he should be granted clemency and released from his 104-year prison sentence for armed robbery. Apparently, he had a tumultuous childhood which resulted in a grown man with little or no empathy. A lack of empathy, or the ability to stand in someone else's shoes and feel what they might feel, is a common characteristic in a traditional bully.
Peer victimization expert Daniel Olweus has described different types of bullies. I am not suggesting to know what kind of bully Clemmons was but one kind of bully is the "bullied bully." This bully is the one who has been bullied him or herself and bullies others to, "get some relief from his own feelings of powerlessness and self-loathing" (Coloroso, 2007, 89). He has had a long connection with law enforcement, clearly blames them for his circumstances and was actually out on bail, facing charges of assaulting a police officer and sexual abuse of a child (MSN home page, 12/01/09) when the shooting occurred.
I absolutely do NOT blame the Seattle police officer who, when faced with a "cop killer," shot and killed him today. My own brother is a police officer and if it is between him going home to see his wife and sons and some low-life who would take my brother's life, my brother should shoot first and I hope your aim is true! 99 percent of police officers are good, caring, brave men and women who regularly put their lives on the line for total strangers. Having said that, I wish we could have heard from Clemmons. He is not alone in his victimization and role as violent bully. But they can change.
Hukkabee must have known that this man had a violent upbringing and committed interpersonal, violent crimes before granting him clemency. Here is my problem with that decision (and I believe it is standard operating procedure), they just released him with no mandatory ongoing therapy as a condition of release or even delaying his release upon completion of in-custody therapy. Either way, this bully and others like him may not need to be put in prison but they need someone to collaborate with them to work out the issues that have resulted in their identity as a bully.
Our young people are the same way. A large majority of the instances of bullying in schools will occur outside the vision of teachers and paraprofessionals. It happens in the bathroom, between buildings of the school during recess, or in the path to and from school. Still, when it is obseved, most schools will send a bully to the office without understanding the underlying issues that resulted in the bullying behavior. They are then expelled or punished without any ongoing work to support the bully's development of alternative responses to feelings of inadequacy, superiority, or animosity. Bullying left unexplored in young children can result in adults with unexplored bullying behavior and we have workplace shootings, abusive parents and impulsive interpersonal violence occurring in society.